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Baby Blue Vest

18 Aug

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My nephew will be born in the next couple of weeks. Even though babies can’t comprehend the time and effort that goes into hand-knit items, I hope all the affection I poured into these stitches will sink into his soft little body and help him know he is loved.

The pattern, Viggo, is for a little striped vest, but I love this so much more. The main yarn is Araucania Lontue, a thick/thin light fingering weight cotton/linen blend. It’s not as soft as most baby yarns due to the linen content, but it will get softer with wear and washing, and as a vest it will be worn over shirts or onesies. Check out more technical details on my Ravelry page.

I got this yarn on closeout when one of my local yarn shops decided to shut down, and I used about half of one skein for this vest. I will definitely use the remaining yarn to make another baby vest or sweater, because I think this is too cute.

It’s not often that I don’t want to let go of a knitted item, but I’m sorry to see this leave. I won’t be around to see my nephew while he’s a little babe (they live several states away) so I won’t even get to enjoy cuddling him while he wears this. But I guess that’s what you get when you live away from your family.

This also makes a great companion for the striped bonnet I knit this spring.

5

Happiness and sadness

15 Apr

bonnet

I write for a living. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that on this blog before, but I feel like it’s important to mention right now, because it partially explains my absence from posting recently. I’ve been sitting here in the snowy mountains, continuing to knit up a storm while winter sort of petered out prematurely around me.

I’m a public relations writer at a university, the same one where I graduated four years ago after receiving what I believe is the best journalism education in the country. I write a lot of different things, including articles, magazine features, simple newsletters for campus, etc. I love my work and I think it’s the greatest thing in the world to get paid to write, but lately it’s left me with little interest in writing in my spare time, even on this blog, which I also love.

But I knew I’d come back to it eventually, when I had something to say. Sadly, today I do have something to say.

For those of you who’ve been following my blog for the past couple years, you’ll know that I knit a lot of baby stuff “just in case.” I finally have a real little person to knit for now, because my husband an I are welcoming a nephew into the world this summer. I’m extremely excited and I’ve been planning very special little knits for the new man in my life, even though he’ll live in Southern California, where knitters dare not tread.

Over the weekend I knit this Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap, a pattern I’ve been in love with for years. I used a dark blue cotton/acrylic and some self-striping sock yarn to make what I think is the cutest little bonnet ever. It’s incredibly soft and light, but feels cool and luxurious in your hand. I took this little bonnet to work with me today, partly because I wanted to take some photos in nice light at my office, and partly because I just hadn’t finished fawning over it yet.

As a former journalist and someone who still works with the media, I keep a news tab open on my computer pretty much all day. This afternoon one word took over my news and Twitter feeds: Boston. I’m a big fan of running, so I was paying attention to the marathon, but my world kind of stopped today when I realized the gravity and horror of the bombings that took place at America’s oldest, most prestigious race.

I have been saddened lately that every time I read the news or turn on the television someone is talking about another mass shooting, stabbing, bombing or other attack. But, I’m sorry to say, I’ve become desensitized to it over the years. I was 14 when 9/11 happened, even younger during Columbine. I’ve grown up in an America of mass violence on a horrifying scale, and although it is sad, it’s become the America I know.

But today something snapped. I’m always saddened by tragedies like this, even if I’m not shocked. But when I read the news about Boston, saw the photos, watched the videos and heard people crying in terror, I instinctively reached over to my desk and grabbed this little bonnet.

I suddenly became scared that my nephew and the my future children will be born into this America.

Many people have said today that the good people always outnumber the bad, and that’s true. But it doesn’t change the fact that I found myself crying at my desk today as I thought of the happiness of the runners, their families and the bystanders who were enjoying the Boston Marathon, and then the sadness and fear that overtook the event and always will mar our memory of this day and the race.

I now live in a country were you can’t safely go to a movie theater, watch a race on a street, go shopping in a mall or even attend school, not only as a teenager or adult, but as a small child.

I can pour all the love in the world into these tiny stitches and hope that my new nephew will feel it, but I am helpless to protect the people most important to me from the extreme violence that has overtaken us.

My brother-in-law, the little nephew’s father, is a sheriff’s deputy in a dangerous county in California. He goes to work every day to protect people and make his community a safer place. I vote for politicians I believe will work to help us stem violence in our country. I listen to my stepdaughter and try to help her work through her inevitable emotions of angst, isolation and disappointment. We keep no weapons in the home, so if talking doesn’t work, no options of mass violence are readily available to express those emotions.

I feel my family does all that it can to prevent these tragedies from happening, but nothing changes the fact that this morning that little bonnet made me happy, and tonight it makes me sad.

Lunchtime Update

3 Jan
The Chevron Baby Blanket by Purl Soho.

The Chevron Baby Blanket by Purl Soho.

I have completed the knitting on my Chevron Baby Blanket. I’m totally smitten with this afghan and I wish it were my size. It could make a great lap blanket, but I think I’d like to save it for a baby.

I say I’m finished with the knitting because I’d like to line the wrong side of the afghan with some cotton fabric. This will make it even warmer and will help keep the ends from unweaving as the blanket gets washed repeatedly.

I think this project is great for both beginners or advanced knitters. The stitch pattern was easy to memorize and the neat design is a great payoff for a new knitter, while the bulky-weight guage offers fast satisfaction to a seasoned knitter who’s burned out on a shawl or more complicated patterns.

This pattern called for seven skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton, which I have used on several occassions. However, this yarn is a bit pricey and the afghan would have cost more than $100 if I’d used it. I opted for Knit Picks Simply Cotton Worsted, which has been discontinued and was on clearance. In total, I paid $21 for the yarn (plus a little stash white cotton I had sitting around.)

The only adjustments I made to the pattern had to do with how much yarn I had. The pattern calls for 20 rows of each color (10 garter ridges), but I wasn’t sure I had enough yarn when I started, so I did 18 rows of each color. To make up for the lost length I added the white cotton stripe in the middle, and my afghan is just four rows longer than it would be if I’d followed the pattern.

I will definitely make this afghan again the future, though I’ll have to find some new yarn. I love the organic cotton feel, but Knit Picks Comfy Worsted (cotton/acrylic) or even the pricey Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton would be great choices.

I did estimate incorrectly on the amount of yarn I had, so I have leftovers of each color. I think I’ll make a matching bonnet!

Stripes

22 Dec

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I tried to post this photo another way, and it didn’t work. I’m continuing to make progress on my Chevron Baby Blanket, and every stripe I add makes it even prettier. After the white comes two greens and a dark gray. I can’t wait to finish this up. The final size will be about 2’x3′ and will weight nearly 2 lbs. I wish I could shrink down to baby size so I could cuddle under it.

The Reveal

30 Jul

My parents visited this past weekend, and I was finally able to give them their birthday gifts. Allow me to present Quill for my mom, and Caldwell for my dad.

Quill, designed by Jared Flood, was published in the 2011 Brooklyn Tweed Spring Thaw collection.

Caldwell, designed by Stephen West, was published in Brooklyn Tweed Wool People Volume 1.

Both of these projects were knit with Knit Picks simply organic cotton – Quill in sport weight, and Caldwell in worsted weight. The colors suit my parents’ wardrobes and personalities, and I feel the patterns complement each other well. I hope they have wonderful knitwear date nights when the weather gets chilly.

Both of these projects were challenging for me in their own ways. Quill is a simple pattern, but it’s huge and requires a lot of time, patience, and blocking with wires. Caldwell is seamed and finished with an i-cord bind off all around. This was a new technique for me and took a lot of time.

I was so pleased that my parents loved their gifts. Their reaction made all of the hard work and long nights worth it. I unfortunately forgot to pull the beautiful photo of both of them wearing their gifts off my mom’s camera before they left, but perhaps I can get it on the blog later.

Additionally, my dad added a wonderful treat to my mom’s gift and bought her a silver shawl pin that features oak leaves, one of my mom’s favorite motifs. All in all, I think she had a beautiful 50th birthday, and my dad will have a great 62nd next weekend.

But you know, my parents weren’t the only ones who received gifts this weekend. I got some new toys, too! Most notably, my mom brought me some gorgeous rosewood Knitter’s Pride Cubic DPNs. These square needles are ergonomic, strong, and create more uniform stitches.

The GNP socks are still in progress. I’ve missed the deadline for the competition, but hopefully they can still make it up to Whitefish in time for the auction.

Because I just started a new job (which I love!) and had family visit, my lofty goals of completing my GNP socks and competing in the Ravellenic Games (formerly the Ravelympics) were not realized. I did, however, cast on a sweater with the yarn I had set aside for the competition.

Great things start with small beginnings. That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.

This little sleeve will eventually be the Agnes Pullover from the latest issue of Knitscene. I don’t normally purchase that magazine, but just about every pattern in the fall issue is gorgeous, especially Agnes.

I had hoped to have some more impressive in-progress projects to share right now, but I am so happy I took time to relax and enjoy my family’s visit. My parents and aunt don’t get to come out here often, and the Ravellenic Games aren’t a good reason to ignore my family.

Notes

  • Quill is a traditional Shetland hap shawl.
  • The buttons featured on the Caldwell vest are apple wood and purchased from Woods of Narnia on Etsy.

To the fair

19 Jul

I’ve entered four different categories in the knitting exhibit of my county’s fair.

I’ve never entered anything in a fair, but it turns out it’s free and I could possibly win a gift certificate to a local yarn store, so I decided to enter!

The four projects I chose are my Scent of Lavender socks, Rainbow Trout cowl, Scarlet Beaded Tam, and Little Coffee Bean Cardigan. I can only enter one item in each category, and I think these are the cleanest, nicest items I have available.

I’ve never seen the competition at our local fair, but hopefully I make a good showing. It’s too bad I won’t have my parents’ birthday presents on hand, because they are beautiful!

GNP Sock Update

11 Jul

I am using the magic-loop technique rather than four DPNs for the leg portion.

My Wildflower Socks for the Glacier National Park Sock Drive are under way and knitting up beautifully. I truly wish I could keep them, but I’m sure they’ll go to a good home for a good cause.